Limestone Select Board member Alan Mulherin is stepping up as interim town manager. Current manager Alvin Lam will become director of special projects Sept. 1. Credit: Courtesy of Alan Mulherin

LIMESTONE, Maine — Limestone’s latest town manager, who said he’d donate his salary back to the town, is now taking on a new role.

After seven years with 11 different town managers, Limestone in June hired Alvin Lam, despite Lam having no prior municipal or government experience. A Portland native and real estate manager, Lam offered to donate back his $80,000 town manager salary after accepting the position.

But two months later, Lam is leaving the job to be the town’s director of special projects, a newly created volunteer position. Select Board member Alan Mulherin will become interim town manager Sept. 1.

The Select Board voted unanimously in favor of Lam and Mulherin’s new roles after an executive session Wednesday night, Mulherin said. The board has not yet discussed whether Mulherin will be promoted from interim to permanent town manager.

The change in leadership comes at a crucial time for Limestone. The frequent turnover at town manager has given Limestone little opportunity to develop a sustainable plan for development and growth. The town lost its economic development coordinator in 2019, and has not since replaced him. Town leaders hope Lam’s new role will fill that void and lead to better growth opportunities.

Lam will not earn a salary in his new position, and the town has not given him a budget.

Mulherin said the Select Board and Lam felt that having two separate positions would allow the town manager to lead daily operations and oversee town departments and free up Lam to coordinate larger economic and community development projects.

“With the turnover, we lacked continuity to see projects come to fruition,” Mulherin said. “Alvin’s role will be to work with Loring Development Authority and the town so that we can see more businesses come to Limestone.”

When Lam began as town manager, he said he was diving headfirst into long-standing issues, such as conflicts with Loring Development Authority, staff turnover and training, lack of downtown business growth and redevelopment prospects at Loring. But the various job demands left him little time to hone in on specific projects, Lam said.

For instance, the town has been in conversation with a potential major employer, Lam said. He said a decision has not been made but that having a dedicated projects manager will make these types of opportunities more possible for the town.

“There are so many things that haven’t been worked on during the last 12 town managers,” Lam said.

Lam said he also wants to help Limestone create a town-owned co-working space for working professionals and training center for Aroostook County municipal employees.

Mulherin was elected to Limestone’s Select Board in June. He previously served on the committee for Limestone Community School.

Mulherin graduated from the former Limestone High School in 1974 and from Northern Maine Vocational Technical Institute, now Northern Maine Community College, with a degree in electrical construction in 1976.

In December 2020, Mulherin retired from a more-than-35-year career in civil service. He started with a decade at Loring Air Force Base as an electrical worker, HVAC technician and power production lead. He went on to serve as an accountant at Defense Finance and Accounting Service’s Limestone branch and as a customs officer for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Mulherin is the former president of both the American Federation of Government Employees for Loring Air Force Base and the National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 141.

His short- and long-term goals include helping the town collect unpaid taxes, taking care of dilapidated and abandoned buildings, improving town roads and infrastructure and assisting Lam with development initiatives.

Limestone does not plan to hold a special election to replace Mulherin. Maine law requires that towns with a select board have at least three elected people on their board. Limestone typically has five Select Board members. After Mulherin’s departure, the town will have four.